Archive for ‘Community’

June 1, 2011

Better Together

All of us started somewhere. For that matter, we’ve probably all started over from time to time. It’s at times like these when you realize how important community is.

Hebrews 10: 24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Community can do so many great things for us:

Spur us on toward love and good deeds

Keep us accountable

Encourage one another

Starting over can be hard but it’s so important to get plugged in. Have you changed jobs? Made a move? Decided not to be a part of a Bible study? Reconsider and think of getting involved. No one can do their faith walk completely on their own. At some point we all face a challenge we find insurmountable or stagnant in our faith. And let’s be honest, there are times we all need to be kicked in the pants to get it in gear! Wherever you are today, invest in tomorrow by being involved in a body of believers that meets regularly.

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January 19, 2011

29 Before 29

My commitment to intentional living and my One Word 2011 word of the year, “faith” (read more here), encapsulates all areas of my life. I want to live a well-balanced life because it allows me to live as God desires – working hard but also seeking to enjoy what he has given (read Choosing Joy and In Pursuit of Joy).

As a part of this new journey, I decided to create a “29 Before 29” list to guide me. I was initially inspired by my friend HopefulLeigh to complete a list of goals before my next birthday. She recently completed 31 Things Before Turning 31 and is now working on her next list. It’s been fun to see how she’s lived her life with intention, freedom, and challenge through her goals. I want the same for my life.

My next birthday is in just a few months so I’m giving myself until May 2012 to complete this list (though I may finish sooner).  I’m excited to see how my “29 Before 29” will challenge me and I’m looking forward to a fun-filled year plus. I expect to find that I will grow, live in faith, freedom and grace. Periodically, I will post on my progress. Hope you’re up for accompanying me on this journey!

Without further ado, here’s my “29 Before 29:”

1)      Take more risks (i.e. engage strangers in conversation, do things by myself, do something out-of-the-norm).

2)      Take an exercise class.

3)      Read 75 books.

4)      Get involved in a Bible study.

5)      Run a 5k.

6)      Develop blog (help me by commenting and spreading the word).

7)      Go on a vacation.

8)      Find an art project.

9)      Look for a new ministry opportunity.

10)   Go coffee tasting.

11)   Attend 3 concerts.

12)   Cook more (try 10 new recipes).

13)   Find a treasure at a thrift store.

14)   Attend a conference.

15)   Test out my GPS.

16)   Move.

17)   De-clutter my life (deep clean, minimize unnecessary time and money-zapping activities)

18)   Hike through a forest preserve.

19)   Host a dinner party (a REAL one, for grow-ups).

20)   Get health insurance and go see a doctor for a routine checkup.

21)   Be still and know that He is God.

22)   Be a mentor.

23)   Be mentored.

24)   Fast regularly.

25)   Bake a blueberry pie from scratch.

26)   Live as a missionary would – with intention, sacrifice, purpose, and seeking opportunities to share the gospel and be where God has called me now -not later.

27)   Spend more time with children.

28)   Dance.

29)   Be open to new adventures and lean into what God has in store for me!

Do you have a birthday bucket list? Let me know and I’d be happy to link to it.

January 18, 2011

Intentional Living

I’ve been writing this post in my head for months. I can’t seem to get it right but here it goes. Please bare with me (or is it bear? Either way – love me just the same).

I’m a planner. Many of these posts and musings occurred as I realized I was at the end of my plan. But I’m at the beginning of something new. Something beyond my grasp and understanding. I don’t like change. It scares me. But, God is up to something. In the turbulence, He’s given peace. I don’t like risks but He has begun to cultivate a love for adventure in my heart. Today, I can honestly tell you I’m excited about what’s to come. I have no idea what the next year will bring or even tomorrow but I’m ready to take a risk and seize the adventure just the same. The ‘Type A’ in me is softening. I want to grow less rigid and accept the fact that life is fluid.

I want to surrender my will (which has so frequently caused me anxieties, stress, and so much wasted energy) and embrace God’s will for my life.

A part of embracing God’s will for me is for me to live intentionally where I am. He has me where I am for a reason. I’ve been fighting too hard to get to a place I might not suppose to be. In the past months I’ve considered relocating, massive career changes despite just finishing my graduate degree, and taken an honest look at my faith. Praise God for allowing me to wrestle through the hard questions.

Here’s what I know. God loves me. He has a plan for my life. He knows the desires of my heart BUT that does not mean I should be sitting around twiddling my thumbs until lo and behold – the situation of my dreams arises. Nope, He said GO and make disciples. Not, wait until you have your life figured out. Go.

In light of this, I want to live my life with intention. I want to seize the opportunities presented to me today. I want to talk to strangers. I want to speak openly about my faith. I want to love those that are “unlovable.” I want to live in freedom. I want to be an example.

And as I live my life with intention – I am trying to follow His command and GO.

More on intentional living tomorrow.

January 13, 2011

Uniquely You

We all have a calling. A gift. It’s different for each of us. We all have a unique role to play. I like working with senior citizens. It’s my way to give back – to say thank you for contributing to my life, community, country, etc. I love listening to their stories – gleaning from their mistakes and treasuring their wisdom. But not all would find my job exciting – yet it fits me because of how God has placed a unique passion in my life for the widows, lonely, and aged.

I have a friend who yearns to help Islamic women regain their freedom and independence. Another friend wants to open a home for pregnant teen moms and mentor them. A former coworker serves in an underprivileged neighborhood because he is passionate that these children should have some sort of father figure in their lives. An old classmate wanted to move to Hollywood to share the Gospel with the entertainment industry. I’m proud of my friends and excited by their passion.

All of these dreams help me see how we each have a role to play in this world. We are all uniquely gifted and have different passions. (Praise God because there is so much need in our world!) It’s amazing to think that if we were all faithful to minister in the ways we have been called (examine your passions, gifts, talents and opportunities to help you discern where God may be leading you), the entire world might know the name of Jesus Christ! That is a thought that is astounding to me. Embrace your distinct gifting and talents. We are not all the same (again, praise God because that would be boring!) and should not compare ourselves against one another. Play a part in the grand scheme. Get in the game and be YOU – the unique you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27  Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.

 


 

December 1, 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

It’s officially December and the Christmas season is here. Before we get too far ahead I wanted to share with you a compelling message I heard on the radio the other morning. I tuned in to hear about the Advent Conspiracy. This ministry challenges us to look at how we spend Christmas. Jesus came with a message of hope and love. How did we get so wrapped up in the commercialism of Christmas? What if we spent less time buying gifts (often out of obligation) and spent time with each other? What if we used that time and money to help someone in need? Think of what would happen if we all just bought ONE less gift? Just one. I think we would all be amazed by what could be done with the extra time and resources.

And, what about our time? Doesn’t it mean more to give the gift of time to our loved ones rather than a wrapped package with a pretty bow? One story I heard told of a man who bought his father a pound of coffee beans for Christmas. But the coffee beans weren’t really the gift. It was the note attached. The note told his father that he wasn’t allowed to use the coffee unless the son was there to drink it with him. Over the many cups of coffee, the son wanted to hear his father’s life stories and how he grew into the man he is today.The son spent less money on the gift but it meant more because of the time invested in it.  Now that’s a gift I’d like to get!

This Christmas consider giving the gift of your presence not your presents. Visit the website for more information: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/


November 23, 2010

Watch My Feet

At one point in my life I felt fairly confident in being trained in evangelism and discipleship. I took classes, read books, and went on missions’ trips. But it’s been years since I’ve been enrolled in these classes and I’ve grown rusty. Sharing my faith with words has become a bit of a challenge (one that I am convicted I must change). Yet, I realized that evangelism and discipleship may not always look so formal. It might simply be how others watch how I live my life.

We often under-estimate the power of the example we set for others. I know I frequently live my life without regard to how I influence others. But when we live healthy lives and strive to follow after the Lord we make an impact. People notice. I came to this conclusion a few weeks ago when I had a few different people approach me independently and reveal that my attempts to live a healthier life have influenced them. While proud that they were taking some great steps, I was also convicted that I need to be careful to always live out my faith.

But it’s more than habits. Our lives are examined when we enter into difficult seasons of our lives too. People watch how we handle the challenges that are placed in our lives. Allow others to observe you seeking after God as you work through whatever has been grieving your heart. Transparency can be key to showing people your faith and making disciples without ever formally doing so. Be honest about your questions and struggles. Continue to glorify God in your pains and challenges. Don’t be afraid to show others the difficult side of faith. They may find this refreshing. Personally, when I need counsel I don’t want to talk to the person who always has it together. I want to talk to the person who has been through hard times and was able to come out the other side. God can use our honest cries in our lives but also in the lives of those around us. Never forget that the impact of our lives on others is astounding. Don’t under-estimate your walk. People are watching your feet.

Matthew 28: 19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

November 16, 2010

The Blessing of Friendship

I’ve noticed a trend in my thankfulness journal (It’s been a great challenge to consciously pursue joy in my life – try it with me!). Most days I end with “I’m so thankful that I got to talk to ____ today” or “Lord, thank you that I was able to spend time with ____.”  Relationships are such a key part of our lives. We are meant to live in community –  holding each other up in prayer, enjoying each other’s company (read drinking coffee if you’re MY friend!),  laughing uncontrollably, sharing in each other’s sorrows, etc. I believe friendships are often God’s way to physically be near to us.

We also have this amazing chance to be refined. (How often have my dearest friends told me I’m screwing up or to step it up?! And I love them tremendously for telling me so!) Proverbs 27:17 is a notoriously quoted verse – “as iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpen another.” But my favorite verse on honesty in relationships – Proverbs 28:23 “In the end people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.” If you’re my friend, speak the truth in love. I will do the same for you. I cannot grow and change if I do not see what I should see. The opportunity for growth and accountability is great. My friends are often the people who I let into my life- all of it. Most of the time, I’ve hand-picked you to be a part of my life.

Each friendship I’ve had over the course of my (not-so-long) life has left an imprint on my heart. Whether or not there have been hurts and pains accompanied with some of those friendships, I am so grateful for the lessons I’ve been able to glean from them. All my friendships have allowed me the chance to grow into the person I am today. I carry the lessons learned in my heart and I still apply them to my life.

My college roommate (Hi! If you’re reading this!) has had an ever-lasting impact on how I view friendships. She was one of the first people to model intentional friendships. This sweet, sweet friend would make it a point to ask me every few days how she could be praying for me. It sounds so simple but I remember being so startled by that question. Over time I began to get used to her asking this. I noticed our friendship deepened. I allowed her to be close to my heart, to challenge me, to hold me accountable. I’ve now adopted this question. I ask because I care. I ask because I want God’s best for you. I ask because I want to see you grow.

I am so thankful that God created us to be in relationship with one another. It is incredible that God uses our friends to be His hands and feet when we need a tangible taste of His love.  I am grateful for the way that I am edified through my friendships. I find joy and delight in the blessing God has given me.

This post is dedicated to all my phenomenal friends – new and old who have so graciously shared your lives with me. You truly are a blessing.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

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